tv [untitled] CSPAN June 25, 2009 10:30am-11:00am EDT
our health care system. for the first time people who are considered uninsurable will not have to worry about how they are going to get their money to go to the doctor to take care of their child. they will be insured. everybody in this country will be insured. there will be the insurance companies, but there will also be a public option so people who can't find health insurance, who do not have jobs, will be able to be insured. i find it interesting that the opposing party talks about no competition and no choice. i have seen too many constituents who have no choice. they can't go to the doctor. they can't get surgery because they don't have health insurance. and i have also seen the so-called competition refuse to insure some of mites constituents -- some of my constituents because of pre-existing health conditions. what we have now is the ability to keep your insurance. if americans want to keep their insurance, they should. if they don't or can't, they finally have a public option. i urge my colleagues to vote for this elthinshurens plan. .
the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania rise? >> to address the house for one minute and to revise and extend. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, sir. >> thank you, mr. speaker. we just heard a few moments ago that jobs will be created through this energy tax. it will not be created in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. i want to share with my friends and the american people a letter from the pennsylvania public utility commission, three of the five commissioners wrote me and told me about the impacts of this legislation. they said pennsylvania is the fourth largest coal producer in the nation, distributing over 500 million tons of coal each year. roughly 7% of the nation's coal supply is in pennsylvania and 50% of all electricity that comes from here is from coal. if the waxman-markey bill is passed, it will have a net loss of 66,000 jobs, a sizeable hike of elect trick bills, an
increase of natural gas prices and significant downward pressure on the state gross product. the cost estimates are staggering. pennsylvania public utility commission, i urge my colleagues to reject this national energy tax. the industrial and agricultural heartland states of america will pay, will pay big. and it's time that we reject this tax. i thank the speaker and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman from missouri seek recognition? mr. skelton: mr. speaker, at this time i ask unanimous consent that during consideration of h.r. 2647, pursuant to house resolution 572, debate on amendments 3 and 9 each be extended to 20 minutes and that amendment number 2 be modified in the form that is now placed at the desk. the speaker pro tempore: the
clerk will report the modification. the clerk: the amendment is modified to read as follows. at the end of subtitle e of page 10, after line 2, insert the following new section. section 1055, sense of congress honoring the honorable john m. mchugh. a, findings. congress makes the following -- mr. skelton: i ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. is there objection to the initial request? without objection, so ordered. mr. skelton: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that the statement of the gentleman from tennessee be placed in the record at this moment, mr. cohen. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's statement will be covered under general leave. pursuant to house resolution 572 and rule 18, the chair declares the house in the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for
further consideration of the bill h.r. 2647. will the gentleman from new york, mr. serrano, kindly resume the chair. the chair: the house is in the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for the further consideration of the bill h.r. 2647, which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: a bl to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2010 for military activities of the department of defense, to prescribe military personnel strains for fiscal year 2010 and for other purposes. the chair: when the committee of the whole rose on wednesday, june 24, 2009, all time for general debate had expired. pursuant to the rule, the
amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the bill is considered as an original bill for the purpose of amendment and is considered as read. no amendment to the amendment in the nature of a substitute is in order except those printed in house report 182-151 and amendments en bloc described in section 3 of house resolution 572. each amendment printed in the report shall be offered only in the order printed, except as specified in section 4 of the resolution, may be offered only by a member designated in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for the time specified in the report except for amendments 3 and 9 which shall be debatable for 20 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, shall not be subject to amendment and shall not be subject to a demand for a division of the question. it shall be in order at any time for the chairman of the
committee on armed services or his designee to offer amendments en bloc consisting of amendments printed in the report not earlier disposed of. amendments en bloc shall be considered as read, shall be debatable for 20 minutes equally divided and controlled by the chairman and the ranking minority member or their designees, shall not be subject to amendment and shall not be subject to demand for division on the question. the original proponent in the amendment may insert a statement in the congressional record immediately before the amendments en bloc. the chairman of the committee of the whole may recognize for consideration of any amendment out of the order principleded but not sooner than 30 minutes after the chairman of the committee on armed services or their designee announces from the floor a request to that effect.
such an announcement with regard to amendments 2, 3, 4, 9, 15, 20, 24, 34 and 39 was given on june 24, 2009. pursuant to the order of the house of today, amendment 2 has been modified. it is now in order to consider amendment number 1 printed in house report 111-182. for what purpose does the gentleman from missouri rise? mr. skelton: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 1 printed in house report 111-182 offered by mr. skelton of missouri. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 582, the gentleman from missouri, mr. skelton, and a member opposed, will each control five minutes. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from missouri.
mr. skelton: at this time, mr. chairman, the gentleman from new jersey seeks recognition for a colloquy. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman for participating in a colloquy with me about the importance of the joint military base located in new jersey. it incorporated mcgwire air force base, fort dix. i am proud to have this in new jersey's third and fourth congressional districts. i've worked with many to make the transition to the country's first triservice joint facility as smooth as possible. one of the issues people always talk with me is a discrepancy in locality pay. all three individual installations are logistically close to each other. however, they fall within burlington county and ocean county, and, therefore, two
different county pay jurisdictions. currently, civilian employees doing exactly the same job are being paid different wages. i am working closely with the office of personnel management and the department of defense to have the entire joint base considered within ocean county's pay area because people doing identical jobs on different areas of the triservice base should be paid the same. mr. chairman, i look forward to working with you on this important issue to assist in a smooth transition to the joint base mcgwire, dix, lake hearst, starting on october 1, 2009. mr. skelton: i thank the gentleman for his comments and in response i will tell the gentleman i will work with him, the committee of jurisdiction and the relative government agencies to resolve the issue and help the joint base transition. mr. adler: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. skelton: i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. >> mr. chairman, i rise to claim the time in opposition
although i am not opposed to the amendment and i'll reserve the balance of my time. the chair: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. the gentleman reserves his time. the gentleman from missouri. mr. skelton: mr. miller has a request for a colloquy at this time. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. miller: thank you, mr. chairman. the service members service relief act protects service members when their military service hinders their ability to meet financial obligations or defend their rights in a lawsuit. recent court rulings have questioned whether service members have a private remedy for violations of their rights under the scra. the committee included a provision to increase further the rights of service members. that is a step in the right direction. but i am concerned that the provision does not go far
enough nor as far as the chairman and committee would like to go. i submitted an amendment with mr. -- representative jones based on h.r. 2696, the service members rights and protections act to clarify that service members and covered defendants under the scra do have a proper cause of action. the clarifying amendment has the support of the department of defense, the department of justice, the american bar association, military officers association and is currently in the other body's version of the national defense authorization. will the chairman work to include the most effective private right of action for all scra violations in the conference report? mr. skelton: in response, i might tell you that as the gentleman knows our committee and i worked tirelessly to protect the rights of service members and their families. i know it can be improved. i'd be happy to work with the
gentleman to address the issues that you have raised this morning. mr. miller: thank you, mr. chairman. i know you are committed to stronger language and to doing everything possible to help our service members. mr. skelton: thank you. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i continue to reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from missouri. mr. skelton: mr. chairman, the gentlelady from california seeks recognition for a colloquy. mrs. capps. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized. mrs. capps: i thank the gentleman. mr. chairman, i rise today to ask for your help in providing fair and adequate disability benefits to our nation's federal firefighters. together with the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. platts, i introduced the federal firefighters fairness act to create the presumption that federal firefighters who become disabled by heart disease, lung disease, certain cancers and
other infection diseases contracted the illness on the job. this effort is strongly supported by all five major fire organizations and has 130 bipartisan co-sponsors. i offered this bill as an amendment to the national defense authorization act. however, it was not made in order due to pay-go issues. mr. skelton: i thank the gentlewoman for raising this important issue. i certainly share her concern for our federal firefighters while protecting our national trend military installations, nuclear facilities, v.a. hospitals and other federal facilities. federal firefighters are routinely exposed to toxic substances, biohazards, temperature extremes and stress. i will be pleased to continue working with the gentlelady on this important issue. mrs. capps: i want to thank the gentleman for improving the health of our firefighters. 42 states already recognize
this link by providing some sort of presumptive disability for their state, county firefighters. this creates a serious difference in benefits between federal and municipal firefighters, which is basically unfair. more states enact presumptive disability legislation each year. so this is a problem that continues to grow and the disparity continues to be more apparent. clearly there's a pressing need for this legislation. mr. skelton: the gentlelady knows that i certainly share her admiration and appreciation for our federal firefighters, and i thank her for her dedication. mrs. capps: i thank the chairman and i look forward to working with him in the future. mr. skelton: mr. chairman. the chair: the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i reserve. mr. skelton: mr. chairman -- the chair: the gentleman from missouri. mr. skelton: the amendment before us is one that is technical in nature and seeks to clarify several technical misstatements and problems that
arose in the drafting of the bill. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from missouri. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. . it is now in order to consider amendment number 3 printed in house report 111-182. for what purpose does the gentleman from massachusetts rise? mr. mcgovern: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 3, printed in house report number 111-182, offered by mr. mcgovern of massachusetts.
the chair: pursuant to house resolution 572, and the order of the house of today, the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. mcgovern, and a member opposed each will control 10 minutes. the chair now recognize mr. mcgovern. mr. mcgovern: i yield myself two minutes. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. mcgovern: this amendment requires the secretary of defense to provide congress by the end of the year with an outline of our exit strategy for u.s. military operations in afghanistan. this bipartisan amendment offered by representatives walter jones, shelly pingree, barbara lee, and me does not demand a timeline for withdrawal or halt to the deployment of the 21,000 additional troops called for by the president. it simply asks the administration to present its plan for the beginning, middle, and end of u.s. military operations in afghanistan. for over eight long years, our uniformed men and women have done all that we have asked them to do in afghanistan. we are now asking them to do
more. of and we are giving them more resources and more boots on the ground to accomplish their mission. what we have not told them is how to tell when their contribution to the political solution is done. and they can begin to transition outs of afghanistan. mr. chairman, i want president obama to succeed in afghanistan. i stand by our commitment to provide the necessary resources to help the afghan people take charge of their own future. as congress authorizes and appropriates billions and billions of dollars for a new strategy in afghanistan, is it too much to ask how we will know when our troops can finally come home to their families? certainly we need to hold the governments of afghanistan and pakistan accountable for governing their own nations, but it is incumbent upon us in congress to hold ourselves accountable. before we can even do that, the administration must clearly articulate and outline how it envisions completing its military operations in afghanistan. 11 months into its term is not too soon for that outline to be
provided. we are asking the congress be a proper check and balance. we are asking for congress to do its job. the people of this country want clarity. they are tired of endless wars. please support the mcgovern-jones-pingree-lee amendment. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i rise in opposition to this amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. mckeon: mr. chairman, chairman skelton and i agree this amendment does more harm than good. this amendment sends the wrong signal at the wrong time for the government and people of afghanistan, our military men and women deployed and deploying to afghanistan, our nato and nonnato allies. and the enemy. focusing on an exit versus a strategy is irresponsible and fails to recognize that our efforts in afghanistan are vital to preventing future
terrorist attacks on the american people and our allies. in march of 2009, the president rightly outlined a strategy for afghanistan and pakistan focused on disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al qaeda and its affiliated networks and safe havens. while we debate this amendment, our military men and women are deploying to the afghan theater as part of an additional 21,000 force being sent to fight the insurgency in the south and train the afghan national security forces. instead of focusing on an exit as the amendment calls for, congress needs to provide the funding and resources required to support the president's strategy and allow our military commanders to succeed. as the commander of u.s. sebtral -- central command, general petraeus has consistently stated it will take sustained, substantial resources to implement our counterinsurgency strategy in afghanistan and give our troops
and the government of afghanistan the opportunity to succeed. lastly, the department of defense opposes the amendment and i also oppose the amendment. reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. mr. mcgovern: a military strategy that has no exit as is no strategy at all. i'd like to yield two minutes to the gentleman from north carolina, the co-sponsor of this amendment, mr. jones. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. jones: i rise in strong support of mcgovern amendment. when the previous administration was in office, many times members on both sides of the aisle kept saying, why isn't there an end point to the war in iraq? now after eight years in afghanistan, the current administration must clearly articulate the benchmarks for success and the end point to its war strategy. in my years in congress, i have many opportunities to speak to military leaders. time after time, time after time i heard this. to have a successful war
strategy you must have an end point. an end point is an understanding of what has to be achieved. general petraeus recently said, and i quote, afghanistan has been known over the years as the graveyard of empires. we cannot take that history lightly, end ever quote. another voice who brings credibility to this position is a retired army colonel nell, vietnam and gulf war veteran, military historian, and father after son who died in iraq in 2007. he has written that embarking on a protracted war with no foreseeable end to the u.s. commitment, lacking clearly defined and achievable objectives, risks forfeiting public support. thereby courting disaster. this amendment does not set a date for leaving afghanistan. it simply asks the secretary of
defense to present a plan for success to congress by the end of the year. i would hope that the members of congress will look at this and let's not repeat vietnam. our men and women in uniform vice president given and given and given. and it's time now to say we have a definition of victory. that's all a mr. mcgovern's amendment is asking. with that, mr. speaker, i will yield back my time. the chair: the gentleman from california. mr. mckeon: i yield at this time to the gentleman from california, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, mr. berman, one minute. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. berman: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank my friend for yielding. i have tremendous respect for my friend and colleague from massachusetts. i know he always has the best interest of the nation and our armed services at heart. but i must oppose the amendment. as much as all of us would like to have our brave men and women home again reunited with their
loved ones, we don't have a choice but to keep the troops on the ground in afghanistan for some period of time. the only way we can succeed in afghanistan is to create an environment conducive to development and good governance. our u.s. military is an essential component of that. requiring president obama to develop an exit strategy only a few months after he increased the number of u.s. troops in afghanistan and launched a new strategy would raise questions about our commitment to the afghan people and complicate our efforts to help them create a stable and secure nation in a way that would supersede whatever benefits we could get from the passage of this amendment. i would ask my colleagues to give the president's plan a chance to work. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: i yield myself 30 seconds. the chair: the gentleman is
recognized. mr. mcgovern: president obama on a recent "60 minutes" interview said he favors an exit strategy. this shouldn't be controversial. we are told there is a political solution ultimately to be had in afghanistan. all we are asking is when our military -- when does our military contribution to that political solution come to an end so that we know when we can think about bringing our troops back home? that's all this amendment does. this should not be controversial at all. what we are asking is simply a clearly defined mission and nothing more. at this point, mr. chairman, aid like to yield two minutes to the gentlelady from california a. co-sponsor of this amendment, ms. barbara lee. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes. ms. lee: thank you very much, mr. chairman. i rise in strong support of this amendment. let me commend my colleague from massachusetts for his consistent and bold leadership. this amendment does not call for the redeployment of u.s. armed forces out of afghanistan. it does not call for an end of the funding requested by the administration for military operations.
it does not tie the hands of the president, commanders in the field, or our troops on the ground. it does not provide aid or comfort to those who would harm us or wish us well. instead this amendment will provide a vital contingency plan for withdrawing united states military forces from afghanistan. mr. chairman, most recognize there is no military solution to the quagmire in afghanistan. i remain convinced that the united states must develop an exit strategy in afghanistan before further committing the united states' limited resources and military personnel deeper into afghanistan in pursuit of an objective that may be unattainable, unrealistic, or too costly. unfortunately we are digging ourselves deeper in a hole. in 2001 i voted against the authorization to use force because i feared that giving a blank check to wage war i really worried that this would be for an unspecified period of time, really for an unspecified mission. this blank check continues today.
my worse fears have been realized. so what mr. mcgovern is doing makes a lot of sense. we need an exit strategy for afghanistan now. i urge my colleagues to vote for this amendment. otherwise this blank check is going to continue. this does not enhance the national security of the united states of america, the longer we are there, the worse things get for our troops. our troops deserve to be able to know at least what our plans are, what they are going to entail, and when in fact they will come out of afghanistan. the people of afghanistan deserve to know this. i commend our president for trying to develop a new direction in our policy, but i have to tell you putting more troops in harm's way is not going to help us begin to develop an exit strategy. thank you, mr. mcgovern. and thank all of the co-sponsors for making sure we at least have an opportunity to say no more blank checks. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. -- the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from california.
mr. mckeon: i yield at this time to the gentlelady from florida, the hamm on the foreign affairs committee, ms. ros-lehtinen, two minutes. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes. ms. ros-lehtinen: i thank the chairman and thank you so much, the gentleman from california. i rise in strong opposition to the amendment on afghanistan offered by the gentleman from massachusetts, my friend, mr. mcgovern. in late march of this year, the president announced his comprehensive outline for afghanistan and pakistan. highlighting the threat to critical u.s. security interests that would arise should al qaeda and the taliban reclaim or establish safe havens in those countries. the president clearly outlined our goals. to disrupt, to dismantle, and to defeat al qaeda. i agree with him on those goals. but success requires a sustained commitment and sustained support for both the mission and the brave americans and afghanis carrying it out.
our strategy is having -- meeting with success, yet the mcgovern amendment is already looking for an exit strategy. this amendment sends a terrible message about u.s. resolve to both friends and foes alike. we are not alone in this concern is precisely why the obama administration also opposes the mcgovern amendments stating that the mcgovern amendment, quote, would demonstrate a lack of commitment to the new strategy. it will signal to our afghan partners that the u.s. presence and efforts in the country are fleeting. and it demonstrates to al qaeda we are not intending to see this new strategy through, end quote. it could hamper u.s. strategy goals in the entire region. rather than focusing on an exit strategy, we should instead be focused on working with the obama administration to provide the necessary flexibility to craft policies thatffer the best chance of success while
ensuring congressional consultation and congressional notification. the underlying bill provides this balance and that's why chairman skelton, ranking member mckeon, chairman berman, and i ask our colleagues to support u.s. efforts in afghanistan and oppose the mcgovern amendment. the chair: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. mcgovern: i yield myself 15 seconds. mr. chairman, all we are trying to do is to fill in the holes of the strategy that president obama has already articulated. i think the american people would welcome that. i think the afghan people would welcome that. the notion that we are sending our men and women into harm's way without a clearly defined mission which includes a beginning, middle, and end to me is a mistake. mr. chairman, i'd like to yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from north carolina, mr. jones. the chair: a minute and a half. mr. jones: i thank the gentleman from massachusetts. i respect everyone's